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US booksellers forced to rewrite rules
Business Week reports that a sluggish book market and intense competition from rivals like Amazon.com and Costco are forcing the US' top two booksellers to rewrite the rules on the book business, after Barnes & Noble followed Borders with disappointing fourth-quarter results.
Barnes & Noble, which eked out a small profit increase in the fourth quarter, has focused on further sweetening its deals to its best customers. It already operates an e-commerce site and has developed a publishing business through its acquisition of Sterling Publishing. In a conference call with investors Thursday, Barnes & Noble's c.e.o. Steve Riggio emphasized that it needed to offer customers better deals -- even if it hurts profits in the short term -- saying that industry growth is slower than in the past and competition is fiercer. "We're just trying to increase what we have by making it easier for people to shop both online and in the stores. And you know, giving them a better deal," he said.
Borders, which reported a loss in the quarter, announced a dramatic shakeup of its business -- it plans to cut its Waldenbooks stores in half, to about 300 by the end of next year, and is considering the possible sale of most of its international businesses.